This Week’s NY Happenings: LUCKYRICE, Taste Of The Nation, Manon

NOW: The Mother Of All Rice Fests Returns
LUCKYRICE is back in New York and ready to celebrate all things Asian with a superstar lineup. Tonight is the kickoff, with Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese, and it’s already sold out. Fortunately other tickets remain, as the festival tours through ramen with Chuko, Filipino food with Umi Nom, and a cabana night market at The Maritime Hotel. On Thursday night the focus shifts to “chef cocktails.” Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto hosts while luminaries from Experimental Cocktail Club, Macao Trading Co., and his own Tribeca Canvas put Asian accents on some very fine sips.

LUCKYRICE kicks off tonight, April 29th. Cocktail Feast: A Journey East starts at 8pm on Thursday, May 2nd, at The Bowery Hotel (335 Bowery, East Village). Tickets for the cocktails are $40. To learn more aboutt he hotel, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides. Photo by Parliament of Owls.

NOW: Taste Of The Nation
Seventy of the city’s best bars and restaurants will all be in one place tonight as the 26th annual Taste of the Nation goes off at 82MERCER. Players like ACME, Pouring Ribbons, and The Dead Rabbit are only the beginning, and all proceeds go to fighting childhood hunger.

Taste of the Nation starts at 7:30pm on Thursday, April 25th, at 82MERCER (82 Mercer St., Soho). General admission tickets are $225 ($185 is tax-deductible). To learn more about the event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

WEDNESDAY: Manon Opens In Meatpacking
Moscow’s Cafe Pushkin peeps take another stab at NYC with glossy Meatpacking triplex Manon. The kitchen is run by a former Public hand, working up seasonal ingredients with international accents. Industrial ironwork meets chandeliers on the glossy interior. Opulence, it has it.

Manon (407 W. 14th St., Meatpacking District) opens Wednesday, May 1st. To learn more about the restaurant and lounge, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Know every inch of this city by checking out BlackBook’s NY City Guides, & signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email. 

Get Lucky In NYC Every Night Next Week

This is not false advertising. Starting Monday, April 29th, you can get lucky every night of the week, which is a basically impossible feat in NYC (unless you’re a 21-year-old, freckle-faced, college girl majoring in English, with too many evenings free and lots of insecurity issues). For seven days, you can drink unlimited Bombay Sapphire East Gin cocktails with lemongrass and St. Germain mixed by Iron Chef Morimoto, dance to house tunes spun by scruffy, downtown DJs, and gorge on pinched, pillowy, lamb-filled dumplings made by Mission Chinese Food chef Danny Bowien. And while you’re at it, get lucky with any one you meet. The cause: LUCKYRICE, the 4th annual festival honoring all things Asian (that you can chew and sip) all across NYC.

Some stops along the way include a cocktail feast at The Bowery Hotel lead by eight of NYC’s top bartenders and Iron Chef Morimoto, a “Filipino Fiesta” at The James Beard House hosted by chef Leah Cohen of Pig & Khao (which boasts a BlackBook-obsessed, delicious brunch), and a Night Market at The Maritime Hotel, where 20 Asian spots serve their top dishes in bohemian cabanas à la the chaotic, night market experience in Asia.

Intrigued? Excited? Hungry? Then snatch up the last couple of tickets to LUCKYRICE. 

And (ahem), please tweet at me if you get lucky, thanks. 

Follow Bonnie on Twitter here.

Checking Out the New Downtown Dream

The culture of nightlife and the culture of hotels is about to change. For years, we have discussed the advantages of nightlife finding a protective home in the bosom of a hotel, with all its services, amenities, insurances, lobbyists, lawyers and all that expensive stuff that operators in non-hotel-based joints need to pay for on their own. Hotels are more than ever before driven by their food and beverage establishments. Plus, they come packed with rooms filled with guests who have the best money there is: vacation money.

Vegas has taught everyone that vacation money flows faster than the local variety. The rebirth of Nevada’s desert paradise was built on a shift from hawking gaming to emphasizing the attractions of their clubs and entertainment.

In New York, Ian Schrager drove home the concept of boutique hotels. The Gansevoort took it to new heights with its roof pool and exclusive Provocateur lounge. Food and beverage was driving its whole shebang. Andre Balasz took it all to the next level with The Standard. But lately, Morgans Hotel Group, with its new Mondrian and re-energized Hudson, has upped the ante.

The collaboration between TAO Strategic Group and the Chatwal father-son team of hoteliers redefines the art and the business of both nightlife and hotels. It is a game changer. The Chatwals, fronted by the fabulous Vikram, have had success with their Dream Hotel uptown, the Stay, and many others. They have pushed their nightlife/restaurant program to drive their places. Greg Brier operated Amelia and Aspen Social Club, designed by me and mine. He has had some success with Aspen, which is still under his control. Greg is my boy, but he isn’t TAO Strategic Group. To list all of TAO Strategic’s properties would require that second cup of coffee, so I’ll just offer some: Marquee (NYC and Vegas), Lavo (NYC and Vegas) Tao (NYC and Vegas), and Avenue. They are entwined in Beauty & Essex, Stanton Social, and even Artichoke Pizza. There’s projects everywhere that are hush-hush for a minute. Now, the Chatwals, with all their connections and experience and desire, have turned to them to make the food and beverage drive for their new Dream Downtown. It will take a dozen articles to describe what I saw when Noah Tepperberg showed me the place yesterday. Construction workers for contractor Carlo Seneca, who for my money is the go-to guy for this high-end construction work, were scurrying around to get it done. Private events start early next week, with the magnificent roof due on the 15th. Carlo will finish. His team takes pride in their work and he’s a guy who says “I’ll make it work” far more often than “I’m not sure I can.”

Noah told me about players to be named later, to help sell the place. He doesn’t need them. I’ve heard these names on the street, even though Noah wasn’t talking, and they’re all major, but the place is the perfect place at the perfect time with the perfect operators, and in the perfect location.

The pool is unreal. Noah says it’s perfect for at least 5 hours a day. The staff was being trained as I toured, and were all bright and eager. The design is genius. The one thing that was emphasized to me was that it wasn’t the attached-at-the-hip Maritime Hotel. Both places have those unique porthole windows. The dream team of designers/architects at Handel chose to clad the building in super-chic metal and bring back the ‘hole’ theme throughout. Most noteworthy are the holes at the bottom of the swimming pool, which has lobby-goers looking above. It’s the place the stuff that dreams are made of.

Summer Preview: How the Hamptons Spent Its Winter Vacation

The off-season on the East End was nothing so much as an elaborate game of musical chairs, where restaurants swapped locations, switched bays and changed towns, and when the music stopped, one of the only people sans chair was, of course, Jean Luc. Read on for our detailed round up of what’s moved and shook on the island over the winter, and be sure to check out all the latest openings and perks on our comprehensive Hamptons Guide for the iPhone. Enjoy!

Last year’s Southampton daytime-drinking party-starter Day & Night, following the trend, has moved further east. For the season ahead, kicking off with the Memorial Day bash this Saturday, the bros. Koch describe a circus that features everything short of a French dwarf running around screaming “De plane, boss, de plane.” But give them time, plans do, in fact, include a seaplane (“We’re working with V1 Jets to offer packaged seaplane flights from NYC directly to the venue,” Daniel Koch tells us) and jet skis shuttling guests from boats in the harbor to the party. It all sounds like great fun until you realize that the boys aren’t playing in the Pink Elephant‘s sandbox anymore, that jet skis are prohibited in Three Mile Harbor (that goes double for seaplanes), and that the East Hampton PD once carted a gallery owner who had been in the town for three decades away in a police cruiser because she served wine at an art opening without a permit. Then it gets more fun.

RdV. East (from the crew behind the Meat Packing District’s Bagatelle, Kiss & Fly, and, of course, RdV) takes on the Tavern space (which previously hosted La Playa) and promises to perk up what has become a dwindling club scene. With Pink Elephant sunk in a legal morass, RdV East joins Dune and Lily Pond as the only legitimate club options this side of the canal.

The Montauk locals and watchers of the inexorable crawl of Hamptons glam toward the ocean have been buzzing about the next nail in the coffin of The End’s homespun charm. Sean MacPherson (who with Eric Goode has ridden the Maritime Hotel, Bowery Hotel and Graydon Carter’s Waverly Inn to near obnoxious success and The Jane Ballroom to notoriety) purchased the ever-so-slightly dilapidated–err, homey–inn and restaurant The Crow’s Nest. The acquisition came too late for him to do anything other than run it as is this season, but next year he promises to open a “new and improved” version.

Of course, the inevitable alarms have already sounded, to such an extent that you nearly expect villagers to meet Macpherson with pitchforks and torches when he finally does a Surf Lodge on the complex (also known as, making it a place people might actually want to stay). MacPherson certainly has, by all accounts, a prime spot, just across Lake Montauk from the newly revitalized Montauk Yacht Club (boasting its own revamped restaurant, The Gulf Coast Kitchen). It still remains to be seen if neighbors won’t complain as vociferously as they have about the Surf Lodge, situated on Fort Pond. There’s no reason to believe they won’t.

And, if you can believe it, the Memory Motel in Montauk narrowly missed being turned into a “a cool little box hotel” by reality TV couple Bob and Cortney Novogratz of Bravo’s 9 By Design. As the couple told Hamptons.com, “we missed the deal by a week.” While the landmark escaped that fate, owner Artie Schneider told us that he did indeed make a deal for the hotel portion of the property with someone else (though he’ll retain the bar immortalized by the Rolling Stones in the song of the same name). Changes could come in as little as a month or so, he said.

New casual coastal restaurant Navy Beach opened early and well on a distant stretch of road along some of of Montauk’s prettiest bay beaches, down the sand from what had long been a naval base. The nautical theme carries throughout, from the reclaimed wood from the base in the interior, to the flags over the bar spelling “drink” in maritime code, to the seafood on the menu (though one menu item far from seafaring has been winning raves: the burger).

New this year to Bridgehamton will be Southfork Kitchen, the restaurant opening Bruce Buschel has been chronicling in the New York Times. His list of “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do” stirred a shit-storm and garnered him a Facebook “fan” page calling for a boycott before his spot even had a name. Southfork Kitchen says it is set to serve “local and sustainable” seafood, and if you want to read how cute and fun it is to come up with names and logos and menu items and rules for servers you can read Buschel’s blog.

Ed “Jean Luc” Kleefield once joked that he would auction off the right to smash the sign from his restaurant in East Hampton. It looks like someone has finally taken him up the offer (though without the auction). The sign for Prime 103, his steakhouse on Montauk Highway now lies shattered.

And in Sag Harbor there are signs of life at the former JLX. The “Help Wanted” signs in all the windows prompted a burly passerby with dreadlocks down his back to stop and marvel. “What? So, he’s going to open it back up now?” he said incredulously. “This guy owes me $2,000 bucks, literally.” The passerby will have to get in line, but, in fact, it isn’t Jean Luc reopening the restaurant. A part of the team from the successful Trata in Watermill will make a go of it in Sag Harbor. There’s no name yet, but word is that the spot will be a French-inflected bistro, as it had been.

Now for the others who found new chairs: Mezzaluna AMG packed it in after one season, but Tim Bando of The Meeting House quickly moved in with his sleek and sexy Exile Bar. And Serafina has now taken the former Matto location in East Hampton, offering the same fare served at its midtown stalwarts. The Lodge in EH also closed, but owner Micheal Gluckman moved on up to the Springs with the Boathouse, a two-level seafooder overlooking the water. The Boathouse displaced local favorite Bostwick’s, which promptly, dressed down a bit, moved down toward Montauk Highway and opened in the former Cherrystones as Bostwick’s Chowder House. Also in East Hampton, Wei Fun said sayonara and has been replaced by The Grill on Pantigo, a sort of more casual and modern younger sibling to the 1770 House. Finally, a restaurant called Race Lane is set to open in the former Lodge spot. The owners say Race Lane will hark back to the days when the restaurant was The Laundry (which had moved to a new location a few years ago and closed this winter).

Got all that?

Where Celebs Go Out: Wes Anderson, Emmy Rossum, Charlotte Ronson, & More

At Lucky magazine’s Lucky Shops:

● KATRINA BOWDEN – “I love Café Mogador in the East Village. It’s Moroccan, and they have these great fish and chicken kebabs and really cool dishes and olives and bread. It’s really good. And they have this fish soup that’s amazing, on special sometimes.”

● ANA ORTIZ – “I’m a very local person right now because I don’t have a lot of time away. So there’s this really groovy little place across the street from me called the Speak Low bar and it’s in Dumbo in Brooklyn, and it’s just underneath Rice. It’s a really funky, hip little bar. And they have the most delicious cocktails. As soon as I was able to drink after giving birth, I went down there. They have the best martini I ever had!”

At The Fantastic Mr. Fox press day:

● WES ANDERSON – “There’s a place in Los Angeles called Nishimura that’s a sushi place. That’s a great place. I would recommend that one.”

At launch party for Yoga Wii by Dreamcatcher Interactive Inc.:

● ANJA RUBIK – “Right now — it changes, of course — right now, I’m addicted to Matsuri. It’s a Japanese restaurant in the Maritime Hotel. I just love the food there. It’s incredible and the atmosphere they create there is so beautiful. I love it there. I love the Cipriani’s uptown. I love it. The food is so great. And it also has an incredible atmosphere. Da Silvano is great. Bar Pitti is amazing. It has Italian food, which is fantastic. I love Gobo. It’s all this organic food, vegetarian. It’s on Sixth Avenue near Eighth Street or Seventh Street.”

At Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars:

● SIMON DOONAN – “I love Il Cantinori. It’s around the corner from my house. The risotto primavera is killer!”

● EMMY ROSSUM – “I really like David Burke Townhouse. I love that lollypop tree that comes out at the end. There’s like a cheesecake lollypop tree. It looks like a lollypop, but it’s a ball of cheesecake on the end of stick and it’s in this holder that makes it look like a tree. I really like eating sushi at Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo, at like 4am.”

● TOMMY HILFIGER – “Rebecca’s in Greenwich, Connecticut. Incredibly delicious. It’s simple, but it’s really, really high-quality food and always well done — consistent. It’s prepared very well.”

● MARK RONSON – “My favorite restaurant in New York is, probably, Gino’s uptown on 60th and Lex. The angel hair with the secret sauce. They call it that. ‘Cause when you’re a kid, and anyone tells you something’s secret, of course, you like think it’s amazing. In the whole word, I don’t know. I wish — I’m really good at answering these questions, but not on the spot.”

● DITA VON TEESE – “I love going to London to eat. I love China Tang at the Dorchester because I love the Art Deco Chinese interior. I love the Wolseley in London. And I’m not familiar with New York restaurants. It seems like they’re ever changing, so …”

At Purgatorio pop-up club:

● JOSH LUCAS – “Oh, the old school — Raoul’s is one of my all-time favorites. And there’s a place right down in my neighborhood, called Broadway East, which is a really interesting new kind of organic, sexy restaurant I like a lot. Also, down by my place, Les Enfants Terribles, you know that place? A good, little fun one. Those are my three that come to mind immediately.”

● SIMON HAMMERSTEIN – “That’s a hard question. I kind of like the 18th floor of the Standard — the bar on the 18th floor. I think he’s done a really good job with that.”

● CHRISTIAN SIRIANO – “In New York, I love the Cooper Square Hotel. We have dinner there a lot, hang out there — really, really fun. But, like hang out, hang out spots — where do we go? Oh, Bagatelle, very fabulous. I’m pretty low key, so I feel like — my couch, that’s where we go to hang out and have a party.”

At Motorola’s party for Droid phone with Verizon service:

● PATRICK HEUSINGER – “I just went to Delicatessen for the first time. I really enjoyed that. We watch Sunday and Monday football at Brother Jimmy’s on the Upper West Side. Yeah, it’s great. We’ve been going there since I was in college because I went to college here in New York, too. And then, I go to the bar, Niagara, on the Lower East Side a lot. That’s one of my haunts. I probably go there once a week. One of my best friends works there, so — it’s on 7th and Avenue A.

● JUDAH FRIEDLANDER – “I don’t drink or anything. I’m a role model for children. But I do eat. The place I really crave is called Sarajevo. It’s in Astoria — Bosnian owners. It’s basically Yugoslavian food. Awesome. That’s the place I crave more than any place. Cevapcici is the main thing. It’s kind of like ground beef and lamb on skewers, and you serve it in this fresh, homemade bread. And there’s this spread called Kajmak. It’s kind of like a sour-cream spread, except a million times better. And then you put ajvar on it, also, which is a like a tomato, red pepper, eggplant spread. And then you put raw onions on it, and you’re in heaven, baby! And you got power! And you’re ready to kick ass! It’s good stuff. The other thing they have is stuffed cabbage with tomato sauce, which they call sarma. It’s in Astoria. It’s on 34th Avenue and 38th Street. It’s so good. That’s my favorite food. I like all the ethnic, little take-out type places. Those are my favorite places.”

At launch of fashion game Style Savvy for the Nintendo DS and DSi:

● CHARLOTTE RONSON – “I love Bar Pitti on 6th Avenue. It’s nice and easy. You can sit outside when the weather is nice. You always run into someone you know. For movies, the Anjelika is nice. It’s clean. I’m drawn to movies that play there. In London, I love Holland Park, Kensington High Street — great area with lots of good shops and walking distance from my parents’ home. La Famiglia is a great restaurant.”

At launch party for Scupltz shapewear and legwear:

● ROBERT VERDI –Le Singe Vert on 7th Avenue. It means the Green Monkey. I was born in ’68, the year of the monkey. I love it. Novita, on 22nd Street, off of Park Avenue. It feels very insider; the food is fabulous. There’s a scene, but it’s not sceney. Da Silvano, because I feel like a big schmaltz when I go there ’cause I’m treated better than I really am. He’s really sweet. I’m very good friends with his wife, Marisa, who treats me like family. Since I grew up in a restaurant family, it’s a feeling I like to have when I go out to eat.

Kylie Minogue Talks North American Takedown

Kylie Minogue has nothing to prove. She’s the sweetheart of just about every nation in the world. Countless European tabloid covers have devoted serious headline space to her romance with Italian pin-up Andrés Velencoso, 10 years her junior. The mini-divinity has not one, but five fragrances. She was even honored with the prestigious Order of the British Empire and the French Order of Arts and Letters. So why, exactly, has Minogue’s career not taken off Stateside? Maybe it’s because she hasn’t toured in North America since first chugging along to “The Loco- Motion” in 1987. Even Neighbours, the TV soap opera that gave birth to her illustrious career, was broadcast almost exclusively for Australian and European audiences. But all that’s about to change as the gamine, 41-year-old entertainer from Down Under takes her spectacular live show this side of the pond for the first time ever. Through each endeavor and incarnation—from Charlene, the garage mechanic on Neighbours, to the early-’90s shiny bubblegum-pop princess and the moody soul-searcher alongside Nick Cave, to the breast cancer survivor and activist—Kylie stays Kylie. Both sexy and likeable, she is the diva-next-door.

I’ve been watching you since the early days of Charlene on Neighbours. Now, again, those 1980s outfits are everywhere. Can you believe it? I’m sure everyone from that time thought it would never, ever happen, but now you’ve got girls wearing scrunchies—my God, it’s incredible.

Did you ever anticipate that you’d grow up to be such a massive brand? No, absolutely not. Maybe I’ve got a false impression of myself, but I was very shy at school. When I was younger, I wasn’t really at the front. I never did school plays or anything like that, though I began learning music from the age of 4. Acting came up by chance and one thing led to another. I don’t think about it very often, but if I looked back on Charlene, and how feisty she was, I guess that was in me as well.

Your success hasn’t been as recordbreaking stateside. Americans were slow to embrace your 10th album, X. The fans in America aren’t great in number, but they’re great in spirit. And they’ve been so patient. I think I really shocked them when I said I was touring, because they’ve become accepting of the fact that it was never going to happen. But I meant it, all the years I spent saying I would love to tour the States.

What can we expect from the tour? I decided not to go somewhere I’ve never been before, direction-wise, because American audiences haven’t seen my live shows for the most part. So we decided—and I guess it works well in these financial times—to bring with us a “best of” my different tours.

You’re best known as a performer, but you’ve diversified well. I have all of these side projects—from bed linens to perfumes—but none of them would exist without the nuts and bolts of what I do, which is music and performance. But I find them really enjoyable; it’s just another way of being creative.

image

After years spent being a famous rave scenester, did being sick make you discover other parts of yourself? I spent a lot of time being pretty quiet. You don’t have a lot of energy to do much more than that. I spent time reflecting and projecting, trying to give myself goals for where I wanted to be when I was well. That was obviously pretty emotional and I was still a bit delicate. But now I think I’m back in full flight.

And you’re actually living what you projected positively? I actually am. When people asked about my aspirations in life, I always said I wanted to find harmony, a balance between work and my private life, between work and play. I almost got tired of hearing myself say it, but I finally managed to make that happen. It’s a bit of a shame that it took something so traumatic for me to take action. But, at the moment, I really am enjoying my work, I’m enjoying performing more than ever and I feel a lot more relaxed and confident onstage—not that I’m without my nerves, of course. I’m also making time to do other nice, pleasant things…

Let’s face it, you do have a majorly hunky bloke. For all the talk of me having boyfriends and failed romances—I always find it a bit depressing when it’s written like that—my life just hasn’t been the white picket fence. I’ve spent plenty of time on my own, so it’s good now to have someone to do those fun and not-so-fun things with. I’m not particularly good on my own.

I’d imagine you let go of your passion for clothing when you became ill. I still tried to make an effort. Fashion takes a total rethink when it involves a scarf and when you’re not at your best. But I wasn’t prepared to let it all go, no way.

You seem to share a special bond with Jean Paul Gaultier. I met him at the start of the ’90s, way, way, way back when I first spent time in Paris. He’s such a talented, genuine and generous person. I was at his couture show just a couple of days ago because he’ll be doing some outfits for these upcoming shows in America. I wore a rare vintage lace dress of his that my stylist found on eBay. It wasn’t in Jean Paul’s archives. It’s really sexy, with all the poppers up front.

Does it have cowboys in the lace? I have that dress! I wonder if I can still get into it. Force yourself! Pain is fleeting, but fashion is forever.

KYLIE’S FAVORITE CLUB: Hiro Ballroom at the Maritime Hotel

Photos by William Baker.

Not So Plain Jane

I’m real sick and tired of snarky wannabes who wouldn’t know what end of the bottle to pour booze from, declaring a place done 20 minutes after it’s open. I saw all sorts of silly comments on my friendly neighbor Scott Solish’s blog Down By The Hipster about how the Jane Hotel Ballroom is over. I decided to check out the Jane Ballroom on Friday night and see for myself. I had written about its opening but the distractions of summer have kept me away. A large crowd of attractive people were vying for the attention of the doorman. I approached James, who I didn’t recognize at first and said a few relevant things and was welcomed inside with my companion.

The crowd was simply great. It was the kind of crowd that moves a little to the left to let you pass often with a nod and a smile. This was a weekend night in the heart of the summer and the place was packed with sharp scenesters. There were celebrities: an Olson and that skinny, tall, British, rock-starish, actor Russell Brand. He, like everyone else, moved to the left and allowed me to pass behind him with a smile. The DJs were great laughing and playing fun tunes and the crowd was wildly into it. The lighting isn’t great and it’s a bit hard to see how beautiful the room looks.

My only real criticism is that the bartenders aren’t fast enough and there are certainly not enough of them. I couldn’t find Carlos Quirarte or Matt Kleigman to say hello. There didn’t seem to be anybody in charge or “working the room,” but maybe that’s a great thing. Maybe it’s about the room, the music and crowd rather than the personality of an operator. The place is a smash. Is it the next Beatrice? I don’t even know what that means. Why can’t it just be the Jane Ballroom?

I have yet to see one critical comment, which lays out in terms that I can grasp, what is wrong or expected. I actually believe that the writers of these silly quotes are people who could never make it past James. That doesn’t make them necessarily bad people but it does in so many ways discount the value of their point of view. Jane is near perfect and if some people don’t like it they just shouldn’t go. I hear Bowlmor is open late for them. A joint doesn’t have to cater to people who declare something over simply to impress their loser friends that they’re way cool. A joint doesn’t have to cater to anyone but the crowd they want and not some anonymous loser who can peck unsubstantiated bile on an open forum blog. A joint can define itself and be grand without the validation of people who know so very little about the process. The Jane can cater to a vibrant crowd and be fabulous without the approval of negative nellies. The Jane is great. I say so.

I don’t often disagree with DBTH as they have their thing and I have mine, but I do believe that their article the other day about “ballroom blow,” was a low blow and not worthy of the intelligence, wit and insight that I, as a daily reader, have come to expect. As one person said, it can and does happen everywhere. I didn’t understand the entry. To me, it could only be seen as an attack, an attempt to bring the authorities down on the new establishment. I know that it hurt the operators who didn’t understand why Scott would do this. The Jane is not over. It is brilliant. It is one of the more significant nightlife entries this year. They’re not even up to speed yet. They opened in the middle of the summer and the food element and outdoor spaces will make the place undeniable.

I live near Cafe Gitane in Nolita, and the notion that Luc will bring his considerable restaurant skills to the premises is brilliant. Gitane keeps me fed and will be a great asset to the west side, and as for the Jane, I think all the loser commentators that will now rain down their blubbering bullshit on me should open their own joint and try to make it work. The place would play music that even they wouldn’t like and be inhabited by that too-cool-to take-a-shower hipster crowd. No one would talk, just tweet anonymous downer remarks at each other, and they would declare it over before the bartender could say PBR. The Jane Hotel is operated by Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode. These guys have brought us the B Bar, The Bowery Hotel, The Maritime Hotel, and The Park. Eric Goode gave us Area, easily one of the top 5 clubs of all time. The Smile, Carlos and Matt’s Bond Street entry is one of the great places in my hood. I’d love these snarky know-it-all commentators to open a joint. That space wouldn’t last an Andy Warhol 15 minutes.

Sound Ideas: Daniel Agne of Funktion One

What clubs offer that bars and lounges generally don’t is sound and DJs. There are a few guys at the top of the heap in the sound world, and Daniel Agne is one of those guys. If the sound is crisp and clear, chances are that the club owner spent a great deal of cash to make that happen. As a designer, sound considerations are a day-one thing. The open entrance to the mezzanine level at Marquee with no apparent break to stop the bleed from the main floor was a major design move. The padded ceiling and columns and front of the bar at Home overcame the tremendous bounce from the hardwood floors, brick walls, and concrete ceilings. Joe Lodi hid bass speakers behind banquettes and added a scoop that pushed the sound where it needed to be. The club world is never as easy as people think, and I hope this interview with Daniel gives you insight on the process of sound installation

You do the sound at premier nightclubs, putting in DJ booths, speaker placements, etc., making the room sound great. What’s the name of your company? The company is called Sound Investment and Divine Lab, and we’re often regarded as Funktion One in the US. We do sound, video, lighting, and entertainment technology

People say places like 1Oak have a great sound system because it has a Funktion One system. What is the history of Funktion One? We have access to essentially every type of loudspeaker, amplifier, and processor in the market. We’ve done many AB tests over the years and continually do them when new products are released. We base our company on the confidence that we are designing using the highest-performing equipment possible within the design budget allowed. Funktion One loudspeakers are the core of our systems because we feel that they are the best possible speaker available. Period. They are the result of a holistic design process that prioritizes overall system integrity as apposed to monetarily based design directives. In Funktion One, we found a philosophical approach that runs congruent with that of our own. Tony Andrews and John Newsham at Funktion One have achieved audio excellence by combining decades of technical experience in cabinet and speaker design with a passion for fidelity. By fabricating the speaker drivers in-house, Funktion One is able to precisely tailor the response of each loudspeaker model, using mechanical adjustments to cure mechanical problems instead of leaving it to electronic equalization after the fact, which does not address the root cause of the problem.

In the last ten years, we’ve seen a breakout of DJs and talent, so instead of getting $5,000 to $10,000 a night, DJs are now getting about $40,000 to $50,000. How is sound technology keeping up with the DJs, and how do inventions like Serato and the fade away from vinyl affect what you do? It makes it much more difficult to produce a quality result because technology was once difficult for the common man to obtain. You used to go to a recording studio as a privilege because it was an expensive and exclusive process. You would be there with trained professionals with standards and experience, so you had great quality equipment in experienced hands, and only the best of the best got there. Now, every busboy and their brother is a DJ because the cost of producing music at home is cheap, since they’ve found ways to make the products inexpensive. With all of these mass-produced, lower quality products, on the professional end we have more availability with producing higher quality and better sound systems. But we’ve also been crippled because with this highly accurate, super-loud system that can reproduce whatever comes into it accurately, we have loud distortion and poor-sounding tracks.

What’s the solution? The solution is education, as with any sort of technology. New technology can come in and dilute the waters, but there will also be a backlash — a purist approach that promotes the philosophy of “Well, okay, that’s great that you all started downloading and transferring diseased tracks everywhere.” It’s an education process, but it is starting to be socialized and realized, so there is common knowledge now that when you’re downloading the tracks at low bit rate and you’re paying less for it, that’s not a good thing. That’s like being a race car driver and buying a cheap engine.

What places have you done sound for in New York? Cielo, 1Oak, we just finished the Griffin with you and Marc Dizon, and we did the Crobar system when it became Mansion (M2). We work with Sean McPherson and Eric Goode. We do a lot of their hotel work; we just did the Jane Hotel with them, The Bowery Hotel, The Maritime Hotel; we worked on Mr. West, and we did the basement for APT.

You did Cielo, which is one of the premium dance clubs, and you did 1Oak, which is a different type of club — it’s a lot of mash-up, hip hop, and not as house-heavy as Cielo. Are there any adjustments you make for a club like 1Oak as opposed to Cielo? For Cielo, I have the luxury of tuning for complete accuracy and that’s what my approach was with it. With a venue where you are going to have a more eclectic DJ pool and format, you have to tune your systems to take out some of the things that would be adverse depending on what they are going to play. So if I knew on a system that everyone was going to play good music, I would tune it a little bit differently.

What do you mean by “good music”? I’m talking about the quality. When you get into mash-up and stuff like that, it’s absolutely highly diseased tracks that are being transferred. It’s like the plague — this person now has it and 37 people have transferred it — it just doesn’t sound great. It’s compressed, and it’s cheap downloads in the first place. To a certain point, there’s nothing you can do; we are working on a certain proxy to reintroduce and grab elements that are salvageable, but it’s difficult. 1Oak is more consistent than other places with having good DJs, and obviously Cielo is also because Nicholas Matar had a rhyme and a reason when he set out to do that and he did it. My design firm Lewis & Dizon just did Griffin with you, and when they brought you in, there was a conversation about how the sound was going to work within the design of the room. I’m sure that Nicolas Matar of Cielo was designing the shape of the room and seating with sound in mind from day one. Was it the same with 1Oak? Ronnie Madra, Jeffrey Jah, Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva were both very very adamant that it had to have a great sound system. I think that our company takes a tremendous amount of pride in working with designers. We appreciate the aesthetics of a room, and we’ll go to great lengths to try not to violate that. Sometimes it’s a wrestling match, but we try to come up with custom and unique solutions that would not violate what the design and functionality of a room needs to be. With 1Oak it was actually quite a process with the design to get to where we were, but they did the things they should have done; there were a couple things we were fortunate about, and they did allow me to put things where I needed.

1Oak has a vibrant social scene, and the seating area generally has less sound so that people can speak, while a place like Cielo has great sound in every spot of the room. How do you do that — is it a challenge for you? What you do is have your main focus area, and then off of that you’re doing fills and trying to timeline it to be coming off of the main system. It’s a delay, when you timeline something — you have a system that is going to be your main system, it’s going to be the loudest area, and you’re just trying to accent that.

So what you’re saying is that even in a small room, if the sound is not properly balanced, you’ll hear echoes? Yeah, shorter distances show up as confusion because your brain doesn’t process it accurately, and it’s a disruption instead. At greater distances it’s actually referred to as the Haas effect, but you start to then discern that there are different starting points, or it’ll be like an echo, or it has its own beat to it because it literally starts to get disruptive.

You hear this in a lot of big spaces like Capitale, where you have high ceilings and hard surfaces. Yeah, that’s a room slap echo, where it bounces of the walls.

Clubs are being built everywhere in the city, residents are moving into club districts, and the co-existence of clubs with communities is becoming a big issue. How much consideration is given to the leaking of the sound to the street? It’s important for every single job, and the earlier on in the process that we can get involved with the design and the layout, it really benefits the project. It is obviously a really heavily weighted factor, and every club owner does know that because it is an Achilles’ heel. It can put a club out of business sometimes — does so even if they are running it properly. There’s an issue of how you can achieve that unless you’ve really painstakingly designed the space, or if you have the luxury of sound space within the venue.

You fortunately work for good people; do you turn down a lot of jobs? I do, more often today than I used to, because I’ve learned that despite your best intentions, your efforts are going to end up being inhibited by the personality of the owner. You have quite a reputation; there are two or three people in the city who are talked about in the same breath as you, but sometimes people buy you only because they want your brand, for the vanity of having it. There will be pitfalls. I’ve learned that through Spirit. I was promised a lot when we started that I never got. He [Spirit owner Robbie Wooton] didn’t accept our input, and I should’ve turned that job down. He made a promise that he didn’t keep as well. When I said, “This isn’t enough sound,” he said, okay, “I’ll tell you what, when we turn it on, we’ll have some time and if it’s not right, we’ll get the rest of the parts.” And then when it got to that point, he didn’t do what he said he was going to do, and none of those factors come up when people talk about it or. People don’t consider that part; it’s just your reputation.

When people come in and they hear you did the sound, they’re expecting value, and if you can’t give it to them, you shouldn’t be doing the job. Yes, he turned around and spent three times as much for a different sound engineer and also used the equipment that I already had in there. So he had mine, plus three times as much, so I thought, okay … that’s fair. So, in that I learned a valuable lesson, which is to understand what the result is going to be for the risk you are incurring and figure out if it’s really worth it. Because it took me a lot of time to repair what the impression was of that work.

New York: Top 5 Hotel Newcomers

imageWelcome to the party, see ya’ around campus…

1. Gild Hall (Lower Manhattan) – The first stylish thing to fall into the South Street Seaport and Financial District orbit since … uh, ever? 2. The Bowery Hotel (East Village) – Maritime peeps head east with 17-story tower. Upstairs, it’s a loft of your own, crisply appointed with knockout views. 3. Gramercy Park Hotel (Union Square) – Ian Schrager’s remodel trips out on tapestries and velvet, with leather-topped desks for better sex.

4. Greenwich Hotel (Tribeca) – The mayor of Tribeca finally gets “hotelier” on his résumé. Travis Bickle types book elsewhere, please. 5. 6 Columbus (Midtown West) – Another address-monikered ultra-swank boutique property from the boys behind 60 Thompson.